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Santa Monica “Chain Reaction” Fund Up to $15,000, Fundraisers Say

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

April 30, 2013 --Saturday’s benefit to help save Santa Monica’s iconic “Chain Reaction” sculpture drew more than 100 supporters and raised $1,500, bringing the total raised to date to approximately $15,000.

The money was raised primarily through ticket sales, which went for $20 for adults and $10 for kids and students, as well as T-shirt sales and sales of Paul Conrad's biography “Icon,” organizers said.

But with estimates to repair the two-decade-old, 26-foot-tall work by the Pulitzer-prize winning artist Paul Conrad ranging from $85,000 to $423,000, supporters acknowledge they still have a long way to go.

“I'm looking for something close to the City's (estimate),” said Abby Arnold, a grant-writer who has been helping with the campaign to save the sculpture. “We don't want there to be any excuse for not getting it done.”

City officials, who maintain that the sculpture poses a safety hazard, estimate will cost anywhere between $200,000 to more than $400,000 to make full repairs.

The Conrad family, with the help of Arnold, expects to begin soliciting donations from foundations by the start of summer in an effort to raise the necessary funds by the January deadline set by the City Council.

The Council has set aside $20,000 for any immediate patching up the sculpture would need while its ultimate fate is determined. It also has committed $50,000 to further repairs if supporters can raise the balance needed.

The amount of money still needed to be raised doesn't worry Arnold.

“Step one is always to build the base with your individual and community donations,” she said. “We need to show that the community supports it.”

And with Saturday’s healthy turnout, which included Council member Tony Vazquez and three former mayors, Arnold is confident that “Chain Reaction” has the support it needs.

“I felt really good about it,” she said. “A great time was had by all. The whole event felt wonderful.”

Former mayor Judy Abdo agreed. “I was impressed by the number of people there from all ages,” she said. “There were young people, old people and everything in between.”

Saturday's lineup was designed to appeal to broad age range, with performances by the New Roads Jazz Band and the Lefteous Sisters, a group of folk musicians that carry on the tradition of “purposeful songwriting.”

Abdo was there along with former mayors Paul Rosenstein and Michael Feinstein.

The next fundraiser will be on July 7 at Bergamot Station's Robert Berman Gallery, said Dave Conrad, Paul Conrad's son.

It will be an art show including some of Paul Conrad's work, as well as work by other artists, including a political artist by the name Mr. Fish.

Supporters of the sculpture hope they can repeat of Saturday's success.

“I'm grateful that the people who worked on this event were able to pull it off so successfully,” Abdo said.

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